The Capitals face another “do or die” situation on Tuesday night at CONSOL Energy Center as they square off with the Penguins in Game 6. of the Eastern Conference Semi-finals. After falling in Game 4 in overtime, there was great panic among both the fans and the local and national media as the Caps were in a plight with a 3-1 series deficit. However, the Caps rebounded on Saturday night in a pivotal Game 5 with a 3-1 victory.
In Game 5, Braden Holtby stopped 30 of 31 shots for his 22nd career playoff victory, which leads the franchise. The Caps got two power play goals. The first one came in the first period with a big goal by Alex Ovechkin. A lot of pundits have criticized Ovechkin over the years for his lack of leadership in the playoffs but Ovi is tied for first on the team in goals this postseason with five. Ovechkin is also ranked second on the team in points with 10 and third in assists with five.
The Penguins would tie it with a power play goal of their own with a goal by Chris Kunitz. The Caps scored twice in the second period to go up 3-1. T.J. Oshie continued his hot streak this series with a power play goal at 4:00. It came on a rebound after a shot by Ovechkin. Justin Williams rounded out the scoring at 9:58 with an unassisted goal.
It was a good win for this Capitals team as they scored first and protected their lead. In Games 2 and 3, Pittsburgh scored first and it resulted in the Caps having to play catch up. Despite scoring first in Game 4, they still had to rally as the Pens scored twice to take the 2-1 lead.
The biggest storyline entering Game 6 is Brooks Orpik’s return to action after serving a three game suspension. He got punished by the league after a controversial hit in Game 2 on Olli Maatta. His physical presence will be vital to the Caps as they look to steal a game in Pittsburgh to go back to DC for a decisive Game 7.
“I never really talked to Brooks about (the frustration of being suspended) it. It’s tough when you can’t be out there contributing and I think that’s probably the frustration. It is tough when you are sitting on the sidelines and not being able to help. Now he gets a chance to help tomorrow,” Head Coach Barry Trotz told the media after Monday’s practice at Kettler.
Over on the Penguins side, there has been questions on who will get the nod in between the pipes for Game 6. There were talks that Marc-Andre Fleury would return to action which would be his first start since March 31 with a concussion injury. However, Penguins Head Coach Mike Sullivan said today that he will stick with Matt Murray. The 21-year-old rookie has had a great postseason with a 6-2 mark, a 1.96 GAA and a .937 save percentage.
A lot of people have brought up the past when it comes to playoff hockey in Washington and it there has been a lot of misfortune in playoffs over the franchise’s 41 year history. You can’t change what has already been done, and for this Caps team it is up to them to finally get over the hump. They can take one step closer to doing just that with a win tomorrow night. Puck drop is at 8 p.m. and you can catch the game on NBCSN.